INTRODUCTIONThe deep interest I have always taken in the subject of hymnology, and my warm personal affection for the author of this volume, are my warrant for bespeaking for it a warm and hearty welcome. If ever a man was raised and endowed for a special work by our Divine Master, that man is Ira D. Sankey. His work has been of a twofold character. Before his day psalms and hymns and spiritual songs had always been an important part of the services of religious worship throughout Christendom.
But he introduced a peculiar style of popular hymns which are calculated to awaken the careless, to melt the hardened, and to guide inquiring souls to the LORD JESUS CHRIST. In the next place, he sang these powerful revival-hymns himself, and became as effective a preacher of the Gospel of salvation by song as his associate, Dwight L. Moody, was by sermon. The multitudes who heard his rich and inspiring voice in "The Ninety and Nine," "JESUS of Nazareth Passeth By" and "When the Mists Have Rolled Away" will testify to the prodigious power with which the HOLY SPIRIT gave him utterance. While he has had many successors, he was the pioneer.
This position which our beloved Brother Sankey holds before the whole Christian world fitted him to prepare such a volume as this valuable addition to hymnology. It is the simple but sublime story of the quickening, converting and sanctifying power of sacred song. It adds a new and thrilling chapter to the triumph of the Cross. It is a precious legacy by a faithful veteran of JESUS CHRIST to his fellow-soldiers in all lands who are battling for the cause and crown of the glorious CAPTAIN of our salvation, and who "wait for his appearing."
THEODORE L. CUYLER
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Since Moses and the children of Israel, on the shore of the Red Sea, sang of their deliverance from the hand of Pharaoh, saying: "I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea," there has never been any great religious movement without the use of sacred song. Luther set all Germany ablaze with religious enthusiasm as he sang his magnificent hymn, "Ein' Feste Burg," in which Melanchthon and multitudes of Christian soldiers joined. In later years the church of GOD was thrilled by the sermons of John Wesley and the songs of his brother Charles, whose hymns are more extensively used throughout Christendom than any others. After the Wesleys came Charles G. Finney, who, although he did not use the service of songs as much as others, yet as a preacher was on of the mightiest men of his day. Later came E.P. Hammond, the children's evangelist, who gave the praise service an especially important place in his work.
Then, in 1873, GOD was pleased to send Mr. Moody and myself to Great Britain, where a work of grace was begun that has continued until the present day. About the same time Whittle and Bliss were doing a remarkable work in the United States, Bliss becoming one of the greatest song-evangelists of that age. For the last two or three years we have had the splendid campaign of Torrey and Alexander in Australia, Great Britain and America. In their work the prominent feature has been the use of praise, their most popular hymn being "The Glory Song," which perhaps is the most generally used Gospel song of the day.
We all agree with what Dr. Pentecost has said regarding the power of the sacred song: "I am profoundly sure that among the divinely ordained instrumentalities for the conversion and sanctification of the soul, GOD has not given a greater, besides the preaching of the Gospel, than the singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
I have known a hymn to do GOD's work in a soul when every other instrumentality has failed. I could not enumerate the times GOD has rescued and saved my soul from darkness, discouragement and weariness by the singing of a hymn, generally by bringing one to my own heart and causing me to sing it to myself. It would be easy to fill many pages with interesting facts in connection with the use of hymns in the public worship of the house of GOD. I have seen vast audiences melted and swayed by a simple hymn when they have been unmoved by a powerful presentation of the Gospel from the pulpit."
For many years past I have been collecting and writing up the history of hymns, and incidents connected with their composition and their use by Mr. Moody and myself, as well as by others; but in 1901, when the manuscript of these stories was almost completed, it was unfortunately destroyed in the fire that devastated the great Sanitarium at Battle Creek, Michigan, where I was at that time a guest of my friend Dr. J. H. Kellogg. In view of the regret which was expressed by my friends over this loss, and the interest taken by the people who sing our hymns, I decided to rewrite the story from memory, as far as I was able.
I am indebted to John Julian, S.W. Duffield and E.S. Lorenz, from whose works I have collected some dates and incidents; also to my faithful secretary, Mr. Charles G. Rosewall, for aid in compiling and writing this book. In the preparation of the old original manuscript I was especially indebted to my friend, Mr. Oliver H. Shiras, for his able assistance.
IRA D. SANKEY
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK